John Digby

[1st Earl of Bristol]

Biography of John Digby

John Digby, 1st Earl of Bristol (February 1580 – 16 January 1653), was an English diplomat and a moderate royalist during the English Civil War.

John Digby was the son of Sir George Digby of Coleshill, Warwickshire, and Abigail, daughter of Sir Arthur Henningham. He was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge. On his coming to Court, his charm, good looks and diplomatic ability quickly gained him the favour of King James I, who sent him to Madrid as his ambassador to Spain during the early 1610s, and Digby was a leading figure in the unsuccessful Spanish Match, the effort to marry Prince Charles to the Infanta Maria Anna of Spain. Digby was made the scapegoat for the failure of the marriage plan, recalled and ordered to reside on his estates. Charles after his accession offered Digby a return to royal favour if he would admit his blame for the failure of the match : Digby, always a stubborn and hot-tempered man, described as being terrifying in his anger, refused. Charles, infuriated, impeached him and sent him to the Tower of London; Digby, undaunted, made counter-charges against George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, the prime royal favourite. His trial never proceeded, although he remained in the Tower until 1628, and the affair seriously damaged the King's reputation as a man of honour.

The murder of the Duke of Buckingham in August 1628 caused Digby to reconsider his opposition to the King: like Strafford and others among the Lords he was alarmed at Parliament's increasing radicalism. He offered his services to Charles and was formally reconciled with him. Charles, however, was slow to trust those who had ever opposed him and Digby had little influence at Court in the 1630s.

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Grieve Not, Dear Love

GRIEVE not, dear Love! although we often part:
But know, that Nature gently doth us sever,
Thereby to train us up, with tender art,
To brook the day when we must part for ever.

For Nature, doubting we should be surprised
By that sad day whose dread doth chiefly fear us,
Doth keep us daily schooled and exercised;
Lest that the fright thereof should overbear us!

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